- Created on Monday, 22 October 2012 10:22
A superb initiative to improve the culinary expertise of local students was launched recently at South Devon College - ‘The Mitch Tonks Seafood Academy’. The brainchild of Mitch Tonks, Adele Dawson and Dave Galpin, the Academy has been established to inspire the next generation of chefs to put South Devon on the map as the Centre of Excellence for seafood excellence.
Held in the Horizons restaurant, the launch attracted over 50 guests who were treated to a live cooking demonstration as well as ‘cutting the ribbon’ during the unveiling of the plaque to officially launch the SDC Mitch Tonks Seafood Academy.
Carefully watched by Mitch and the 50 strong audience, including BBC Radio presenter, Judi Spiers, the fish cooking demos were led by three Level 3 apprentices – Chris Hewer from the White Hart in Dartington, Ovidiu Aneculaeszi from the Rockfish and Kurtis Norman from the Dartmouth Naval College,
After the demonstration, the official unveiling of the plaque took place, led by Stephen Criddle, Principal of the College who said;
“ Mitch is one of the best chefs in the UK and we are so grateful to him for leading this exciting new development at the College –raising the standards of culinary skills in the area. It is fantastic to have such a high achiever in our local community who is willing to give time to our students.
We have a long track record of excellent industry links and student success, with high visibility in the food sector through partnerships with Fishstock, Morehampstead Food Festivals, Dartington and the Royal Castle in Dartmouth. The Junior Chef Academy and 14-16 school’s programme has developed a pipeline of young people who are passionate about cooking. With over 90 apprentices, many are experiencing the taste for both business and education - and loving it.”
Head of Hospitality and Tourism, Dave Galpin, spoke about the importance of inspiring the next generation of skilled chefs in the area.
"We are so excited to be launching the new Seafood Academy. It is highly motivating for both the staff and students to work alongside one of best chefs in UK.”
“We are also fortunate in having fantastic staff, with tremendous experience working for the top notch restaurants including the Ritz and Savoy. It is a perfect opportunity to put South Devon on the map as centre of excellence for seafood cuisine - and the college is very proud to help make that vision a reality.”
Brixham-based Mitch has an impressive track record, with 3 restaurants in Bristol and Dartmouth, including the SeaHorse and Rockfish – and has been recognised with many awards for the Best Fishmonger, Best Fish Restaurant and Restaurateur of the year. More recently, the SeaHorse restaurant in Dartmouth has just been awarded Best Seafood Restaurant in the Which Good Food 2013 guide.
An enthusiastic Mitch explained;
“I’ve long been a believer that the south west has the best seafood in the world and this Academy will really develop the potential of young chefs to help them to become some of the best seafood chefs in the country.
One of my own goals for my businesses is to promote the whole area as Britain’s seafood coast – an area where people from all over world would travel to enjoy it’s famed seafood.
One of the challenges with this, and one we all face within the restaurant industry, is a skill shortage of properly trained staff, especially of chefs that have a good understanding of seafood. The college has a wonderful facility with a really fantastic team driving it.
I hope that I can bring a current industry perspective to the training so that we can match the skills the students learn to the needs of businesses.
To really broaden the knowledge of the students, I want to involve our local seafood industry - Trawler owners to take us on board and catch fish, the harbour authority to show us round the market and fish suppliers and smokers to come and share their specialisms too. I will also involve some of the UK’s other high profile seafood chefs to lecture here with me too.
I really hope this initiative will inspire the young chefs here to want to specialize in seafood and ultimately become part of the vision of creating Britain’s seafood coast by either working in or running their own seafood restaurant.”
After the official opening, many delegates expressed their support for the Academy. Carol Trant from South Hams Council said “It is an inspirational seafood programme. Although I knew about the programme, I was amazed at the expertise and knowledge of the staff, who have worked in many of the major UK restaurants, including the Savoy and the Ritz too.”
Kitson’s solicitor, Rob Newman;
“As always, the one aspect that always impresses me about the College is that they are always striving for new programmes and initiatives, constantly reaching out for excellence in everything they do”
Dartmouth based Gill Knight said;
“I really enjoyed the event and I am looking forward to recruiting some of these students for the Dart Marine Hotel”
Gary Brenton enthused;
“Absolutely fantastic initiative and a great incentive for the South Devon College students to really develop their skills – and hopefully TLH will benefit for many years to come.”
If there is anyone who would like to be involved in the Mitch Tonks Seafood Academy, or find out more about the Apprenticeship programme, please call
tel. 01803 540 600